President Donald Trump said deploying the US military to Venezuela is “an option” but few Americans are challenging what some call an apparent effort to foment a crisis to justify the theft of that nation’s oil reserves.
“Well, I don’t want to say that. But certainly, it’s something that’s on the – it’s an option,” Trump said when asked if he would use American military forces during Venezuela’s crisis.
The US recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself in charge on January 23, and is trying to drive the President Nicolas Maduro out of office.
While few Americans have spoken out against Trump, three members of Congress, California Rep. Ro Khanna, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, have released statements condemning the U.S. action in Venezuela.
“The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela,” said Democratic presidential contender Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who has opposed to American interentionism. “Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don’t want other countries to choose our leaders– so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”
“A U.S. backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face,” Omar tweeted. “Trump’s efforts to install a far right opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region. We must support Mexico, Uruguay & the Vatican’s efforts to facilitate a peaceful dialogue.”
The UK, France, Germany and other European countries are expected to recognize Guaido as interim president of Venezuela on Monday if Maduro has not set a date for elections by then.
A number of Latin American nations have also given their blessing to the coup d’etat leader, who wants to cut short the six-year presidential term
Maduro began after the legitimacy of last year’s elections were questioned.
Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Argentina all gave their backing to Guaido’s self-proclamation as Venezuela’s acting president, which he made in front of crowd of tens of thousands of supporters in Caracas.
Mexico, however, stood apart, saying it recognises “the authorities elected in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution,” seen as a lukewarm nod to Maduro.
None of the foreign governments support the kind of military intervention repeatedly suggested by Trump.
Venezuela is experiencing one of its greatest economic and political crises, and Maduro faces intense international pressure to call for new elections.
Maduro, 56, maintains the support of Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey, as well as the Venezuelan military.
The Venezuelan government announced the capture of four soldiers – including a colonel accused of attacking Maduro and planning “selective killings” to further elevate political tension.
“There is no doubt about the direct participation in the frustrated assassination (against Maduro) of Colombian intelligence, the CIA and the fugitive from justice Julio Borges,” said Interior Minister, General Néstor Reverol, referring to a former official exiled in Bogotá.
Among those captured is Colonel Oswaldo García Palomo, accused of activating two drones loaded with explosives near a stage where Maduro was heading a military act on August 4 in Caracas.
Reverol said the 54-year-old officer, who was in exile in Colombia and clandestinely entered Venezuela, was accompanied by retired Colonel José Acevedo and a civilian.
Since January 21, protests left at least 40 dead and 850 arrested, according to the UN.
Trump also said he declined Maduro’s request for a meeting “a number of months ago.”
“I decided at the time ‘no’ because so many really horrible things have been happening in Venezuela,” he said, citing the “poverty, anguish, and crime” in a country that was once one of the wealthiest in Latin America.
The Pentagon will also send 3,750 US troops to the southwest border with Mexico for three months, to provide additional support for customs and border protection agents, the US Department of Defense said on Sunday.
The deployment will bring the total number of active military forces supporting US Customs and Border Protection personnel in the region to approximately 4,350.
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